Throughout the high and late Middle Ages, an individual’s social acceptance and well-being were heavily dependent upon fama, or reputation, they cultivated within their communities. Women, especially, constructed and molded their reputations to protect themselves from hardship and social ostracization, allowing them a degree of agency in social situations. In this thesis, I argue that the mindful development of one’s fama was key for women to protect themselves from accusations of witchcraft. Through the lives of Hildegard of Bingen, Elisabeth of Schönau, and Jeanne d’Arc, I demonstrate how medieval reputations were built, the trifold nature it could hold, and the complexities fama held in social and legal history. By exploring the construction of fama, I dispute the simplified role reputation has as mere gossip or rumor; rather, it was a key component in the establishment of social currency and legal protection.
Level of Degree
First Committee Member (Chair)
Michael A. Ryan
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
reputation, fama, witchcraft, magic, visionaries, medieval law
Hattey, Megan E.. "Visionary Women or Suspected Witches: The Shifting Use and Construction of Reputation in Accusations of Witchcraft During the High and Late Middle Ages." (2022). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hist_etds/344